Joint press statements of Ilham Aliyev and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

18 July 2022, 16:26

Statement by President Ilham Aliyev

-Dear Madam President,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to welcome Madam President of the European Commission to Azerbaijan and the delegation from the EU. Today we had very good discussions on a broad range of issues of mutual interest. We covered all the topics which today are on our agenda, and we had the ceremony of signing of MoU on strategic partnership in the field of energy between the European Union and Azerbaijan. Our active cooperation in the energy area already has a history of more than 15 years. Today’s memorandum is not the first document that was signed between us. We had MoU signed in 2006 and Joint Declaration on Southern Gas Corridor signed in 2011. So, we have a good history and good achievements. Energy projects initiated by Azerbaijan and supported by the European Union, and supported by our partners completely changed the energy map of Europe. We started with oil production, gas production, and constructing an oil pipeline that connected Caspian with the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Of course, the Southern Gas Corridor, which is a 3,500 km long integrated pipeline system that brings our gas to the European continent. It’s less than two years that the Southern Gas Corridor has been working at full capacity, and all the segments are in place, but already we see the positive benefits of this cooperation. Issues of energy security today are more important than ever before. A long-lasting, predictable and very reliable cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan in the field of energy, of course, is a big asset. This year we started an energy dialogue between the EU and Azerbaijan, which covers many areas, including oil, gas, renewables, hydrogen, energy efficiency and other issues, and the great potential of renewable energy production in Azerbaijan also is appreciated already by the European Union. We have already started projects of investments in wind and solar energy. We have already made the first assessment of our potential. And I can say that in the liberated areas of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur, the potential of solar and wind power plants is 9,200 megawatts, and the potential of wind in the Caspian Sea is 157 gigawatts. So we have an enormous resource base. Plus, of course, the new gas fields which we will engage in coming years will add to the production of natural gas and using renewables will save more natural gas for export. So, it’s a very advantageous situation built by our efforts and supported by the European Union. Today’s memorandum actually is a kind of a road map for the future. Taking into account all that what we planned before we accomplished, I am sure that we will see great success. Among other issues we discussed today was the issue of connectivity, and taking into account the geographical location of Azerbaijan and modern transportation infrastructure, we need to work more actively on connecting our potential. Because here on the Western shore of the Caspian, Azerbaijan has the largest trade fleet in the Caspian, modern infrastructure, ship-building yard, new Sea Port and railroad connecting us with all our neighbors. And there is a significant demand for joint efforts to make connectivity as important in our relationship as energy. Of course, our agenda is very broad. We are working on a new agreement between the EU and Azerbaijan. We just discussed it with Madam President, and hopefully, in the coming months, we can complete it. That will also be an important contribution to our bilateral cooperation. We work on a bilateral track within the framework of the Eastern Partnership program, and the EU is the main trading partner for Azerbaijan. Implementing our plans, of course, will increase the joint turnover to the benefit of our peoples and the relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan, I am sure, will have a great future and all we planned we would achieve. Once again, Madam President, thank you for being with us. I wish you a pleasant stay in Baku.

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Statement by Madam President Ursula von der Leyen

-Thank you very much Mr. President for the warm welcome here in Baku. And thank you for stepping up and for supporting the European Union. Because already before Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian gas supplies to Europe were no more reliable. The European Union has therefore decided to diversify away from Russia and to turn towards more reliable, trustworthy partners. And I am glad to count Azerbaijan among them. You are indeed a crucial energy partner for us and you have always been reliable. You were a crucial partner not only for our security of supply, but also in our efforts to become climate neutral. The Memorandum of Understanding that we have just signed makes our energy partnership even stronger.

I want to emphasise three points from our Memorandum of Understanding. The first is that we will double the supply of gas from Azerbaijan to the European Union. Indeed, with this MoU, we commit to the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor. This is already a very important supply route for the European Union, delivering currently more than 8 billion cubic metres of gas per year. And we will expand its capacity to 20 billion cubic metres in a few years. From next year on, we should already reach 12 billion cubic metres. This will help compensate for cuts in supplies of Russian gas and contribute significantly to Europe's security of supply.
The second point that is very prominent in the MoU is the topic of the renewables. Azerbaijan has a tremendous potential in renewable energy – you just described it, Mr President –, and in particular in offshore wind and green hydrogen. We discussed it extensively in our bilateral meeting. Today, with our MoU, we are laying the ground for solid cooperation in that area. So gradually, Azerbaijan will evolve from being a fossil fuel supplier to becoming a very reliable and prominent renewable energy partner to the European Union.

Finally, our cooperation on gas has to be consistent with our responsibilities on climate. This includes, for example, the emissions of methane. Our MoU sets out commitments to reduce methane emissions throughout the entire gas supply chain. And, as we have discussed, Mr President, I strongly encourage Azerbaijan to join the Global Methane Pledge, which is now supported by 119 countries. Azerbaijan has made enormous progress and has a lot to deliver.
Beyond energy, President Aliyev and I discussed the full range of our relation and cooperation. The EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council will meet tomorrow in Brussels and discuss how to take forward our bilateral cooperation. We are working right now on a new bilateral agreement that we hope to conclude soon. The aim is to further expand the strong economic partnership we do have. Indeed, the European Union is: the first commercial partner of Azerbaijan; its first export destination; and one of its most important sources of investments. And we want to expand this. We are investing EUR 60 million of EU funds in Azerbaijan until 2024. And the Economic and Investment Plan has the potential to mobilise up to EUR 2 billion in additional investments. It is already at work, supporting round about 25,000 Azeri small and medium companies, and making the Port of Baku a sustainable transport hub.

This is for us very important, because this leads indeed to the topic of connectivity that you have mentioned. We also discussed that. In particular, how to deepen our ties to bring our people and societies closer together. This is the mission of our Global Gateway strategy. And this is also the essence of our Eastern Partnership. The European Union wants to work with Azerbaijan to build connections with Central Asia and beyond. So we follow with great interest the discussions and the ideas about trans-Caspian connections. We will deepen these discussions. Finally, we want to finalise the Common Aviation Area Agreement. Because this would greatly boost opportunities for business, trade and for tourism.

To reach Azerbaijan's full potential, it is important to create the right conditions for investor confidence. This includes a greater involvement of civil society, and a free and independent media. The European Union is committed to a secure, stable and prosperous South Caucasus. We are the leading donor in demining in the country, for example. We have also discussed this very important topic. We have now just announced a new EUR-4.25-million package for this purpose. But we are also willing to offer machinery and skills in this very important field. All in all, the European Union is firmly attached to your region, Mr President. We value our partnership. And this partnership will consistently grow and deepen over time.

Thank you very much again for hosting us here. And thank you very much for the joint signing of the MoU.